Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Right To Be Cold

The Independent today has something of an odd story, someone "defending her people's right to exist":

If Nobel Peace Prizes could refreeze the polar ice caps, then Sheila Watt-Cloutier would be a very happy woman indeed because her people are, "defending the right to be cold".

As it is, the Canadian activist, who lives in a remote community up above the Arctic circle, is thrilled to have her name put forward as one of the 181 nominees for this year's accolade from the Nobel committee, because it can only advance the cause for which she has been fighting for the past 12 years - protecting the Inuit peoples whose lives are directly and most immediately threatened by the change in the world's climate and raising awareness about global warming. As she said recently: "It's been a long haul and a daunting task to get the message out. When you're 155,000 people at the top of the world, there aren't very many people who even know who you are or what you're facing."

The thing is, no one is threatening her people's right to exist. They are threatening their right to live as they do, but not the people themselves.

As for their right to continue to live as they do, yes, they do indeed have that, just as people in other countries have the right to heat themselves, cool themselves, cook food and use transport. What we need is a way of balancing these rights andthat's exactly what the $85 a tonne for CO2 emissions from the Stern Review does.

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